After missing all of this season with various shoulder-related ailments, St. Louis Cardinal starter Chris Carpenter has recently made some noise about getting some work down the stretch at the major league level. Carpenter, 37, threw 40 pitches to hitters on a Friday afternoon session in Washington and stated that he felt good afterwards and hopes to see action at some point in September.
The last four games notwithstanding, the Cardinal starting rotation has fared well without Carpenter’s services this season thanks to the return of Adam Wainwright and an All-Star effort from Lance Lynn, who pitched mostly out of the bullpen a year ago. As a whole, St. Louis starters rank third in all of baseball with 14.1 combined WAR and second in FIP with a mark of 3.48.
While penciling a fully healthy Carpenter — who has an impressive 95-42 record with a 3.06 ERA in his tenure with the Cardinals — into a rotation that has started to show signs of wear and tear would indeed be helpful, it seems highly improbable a pitcher who has yet to appear in an actual game of any kind since the 2011 World Series could be expected to just show up in September and pitch effectively, especially for a team still vying for a possible playoff berth.
Considering the 2005 NL Cy Young winner is not even two months removed from a surgical operation that involved taking out a portion of his rib cage, the team may be better off protecting him for the remainder of the season and ensuring he’s as ready to go as someone with his injury history can possibly be for next season.